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What Does it Mean to be an Executor?

During the coronavirus pandemic, our Private Client Solicitors, like many other firms across Scotland, have seen a surge in the number of clients coming to us to make or update a Will. We believe this spike is due to people having more time on their hands to take care of these matters, and, sadly, because these challenging times have made many of us more aware of our mortality.

We encourage all adults to write a Will as it is the best way to ensure your money, property and personal possessions are inherited by the people and causes you care about most. However, it is important not to rush the decisions involved in this process. This is particularly so when appointing Executors – the people responsible for carrying out your wishes written in your Will.

Here we discuss what it means to be an Executor, providing guidance for both Will writers and those appointed as Executors. If you have any questions about this subject or would like to find out more about our Private Client services, contact our team today.

How to choose your Executors

The Executors are responsible for managing your affairs after you die, which involves, among other tasks, creating an inventory of your estate, obtaining access to your assets, correctly distributing these to your chosen beneficiaries, and paying taxes and other debts from your estate. The role often demands a substantial amount of time, effort and responsibility.

Focus on trust

It is vital to choose people who you trust to act in your best interests and who you believe will carry out their duties well. It is common for family or friends to be appointed as Executors by those making Wills, as they feel these people know them best. Some choose to instruct a professional, such as a lawyer or accountant, to act as Executor alone or in partnership with loved ones.  

Think about their age

Your Will should be reviewed regularly, and as part of this process, you should consider whether your current Executors are still appropriate. If an Executor is unlikely to outlive you, you may wish to update your wishes. In many cases, individuals choose to appoint a spouse or partner as an Executor initially. As time passes, they may decide to change this to or include their adult children in this role.

Avoid disagreements and delays where possible

It is usual for two Executors to be named in a Will (however, there can be up to four). You should consider whether your Executors would work well together. Disagreements can cause delays to the process, as well as anxiety and distress for your loved ones. It may give you peace of mind to appoint three Executors so that a standstill in decision-making can be avoided.

Make sure they are informed and willing

We advise that you have a conversation with the people you want to appoint to explain the responsibilities involved clearly and to find out if they are able and willing to take on this role. If your Executors are relatives or friends, dealing with your affairs after your death will be upsetting and stressful. You can help to make this process easier for them by being open and clear about your wishes. 

What to consider if someone wants to appoint you as an Executor

If a friend or family member tells you they want to appoint you as an Executor in their Will, it is important to think this through carefully. You may be eager to help your loved one and feel honoured that they trust you with this job. However, this is a big responsibility. It is in your interests and that of your friend or relative to ensure you are up to the role before agreeing.

The level of commitment involved

Some estates are complex, and if this is the case a lot of time and effort will be required on the part of the Executor. It is a good idea to speak to your loved one about their circumstances in detail so you can decide whether this is something you could manage.

Your personal liability

If you make an error when carrying out your responsibilities, whether intentional or not, you could be held financially liable. This means that if any loss to the estate results from your error, you may be ordered to pay the amount lost. However, being organised and seeking professional advice will help you to avoid this.

Your loved one’s wishes

Make sure you discuss what exactly your relative or friend wants to happen to their assets and ask questions about anything you are unsure of. If the time comes to act as Executor, you are likely to be dealing with a lot of emotions at the same time as carrying out your duties. It can help to relieve stress if you are confident you are following your loved one’s wishes. Remember, our Private Client Solicitors are here to guide you through this process. We will ensure that all steps are taken, giving you peace of mind at a challenging time.

Contact our Executry (Probate) Solicitors, Glasgow, Coatbridge, Airdrie, Shetland

If you would like to discuss making or updating a Will or you are looking for assistance with executry duties, we would be delighted to help you. Please contact our Private Client Lawyers today via our online contact form or give us a call on 0141 404 6575.

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